The times, they are a-changin – Mandatory HMO Licensing and Minimum Room Sizes

Are you aware of the recent changes to mandatory HMO licensing and minimum room sizes?

As of 1 October 2018 the game has changed for HMO landlords, with the government implementing the much debated and oft’ misunderstood changes to mandatory HMO licensing. Whilst previously restricted to properties with three or more storeys AND five or more people (forming two or more households), the new rules have removed the three storey stipultation entirely. Under the new rules any House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) that is housing five or more people with some sharing of facilities will fall under mandatory licensing. Those operating without a license as of Oct 1st are risking prosecution and hefty fines of up to £30,000.

Alongside these changes that government has simultaneously introduced minimum room sizes for licensed HMO’s. The draft regulations published earlier in the year were passed into law by Parliament and are detailed in full within ‘The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018’ which is available here. Whilst a thrilling read in its own right, we’ve summarised some of the pertinent points below for ease of reference:

Under the new regulations the absolute minimum bedroom sizes are now:

– 4.64m2 for a bedroom occupied by a child under 10 years old
– 6.51m2 for a bedroom occupied by a person over 10 years old
– 10.22m2 for a bedroom occupied by two people over 10 years old

and

– any room in a HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 square metres can not be used as sleeping accommodation

Councils will retain discretionary powers to require larger room sizes, but are unable to permit the habitation of rooms that fall short of these minimum requirements.

What does this mean for me and my HMO portfolio?

The Government is continuing to legislate the private rented sector in a claimed attempt to crack down on unscrupulous landlords, to reduce overcrowding and to improve living conditions for private tenants. How effective legislating unscrupulous landlords who already ignore the current legislation regardless is perhaps a question for another day, but the key takeaway is that the laws governing your investments continue to change, and that non compliance carries significant penalties. Ignorance is no excuse! Whilst landlords who operate smaller house shares of four or less tenants will remain unaffected, many self managing landlords will likely remain unaware of these changes, and risk falling foul of prosecution, rent repayment orders and unenforceable Section 21’s.

The Online Landlord has worked with HMO investors in the Hull area to assess compliance and to help landlords manage the license application process. If you’re concerned about your position following the recent changes please feel free to get in touch. We help landlords to work pro actively and in collaboration with the Council to maintain standards to the benefit of landlords, tenants and the local communities in Hull.